The Power of Dimming Fixtures

Dimmable lights are a fairly recent invention that has seen a surge in popularity in homes and offices, offering a great way to not only set the mood, but enjoy the right lighting for the right situation. Understanding how they work, the right products to use and the benefits can help you decide if this is a good option for you and we can help!

How dimming fixtures work

At its most simplistic, dimming switches work by chopping parts out of the AC voltage. This means only some of the waveform can pass to the lamp, which causes it to light up. The level of brightness is determined by the power it receives, so the more the waveform is chopped, the more dimmed a light is. In layman’s terms, it is like turning the light on and off really fast – about 100 times a second – resulting in more or less light depending on the dimming level.

Using the right bulbs

If you install a dimmer switch, make sure you also have dimmable bulbs to match. Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) offer traditional styling with all the modern technology, making them highly desirable. However, many CFL’s are not dimmable, so it is important to get the right one if this is your bulb of choice. You can check on the bulb itself or its box whether it can be used with a dimmer switch. Do not use non-dimmable CFL’s with dimming fixtures.

An alternative is to use a dimmable LED bulb. While these are considered more energy efficient, a dimmable LED light may not offer the same smooth dimming process, as they may flicker at various positions through the dimming range, or may only dim down to a percentage. It is important to try your dimmer switch with the LED fixture you want to dim to ensure you get the best performance to suit your needs. The number of LED fittings on one dimmer may also cause a different effect to one fitting on a dimmer, so always take this into account. Currently there are three main types of dimmer switches available, they are; Leading Edge, Trailing Edge and Universal. Just to complicate things further, Dimmable LED lamps and fixtures may also behave differently when used on each of these types of dimmers. It is important to select the dimmer that works best with your LED bulb.

So why are dimmable LED bulbs susceptible to flickering through the dimming range? We know from the brief layman description above that a traditional dimmer works by cutting the electrical waveform. Stated very simplistically, LED’s also operate by switching the LED’s on and off at very high frequencies, faster then the eye can detect. The result of the processes of dimming, combined with the LED’s process of producing light can cause wave frequency clashes, which can appear as flickering.

LED lighting is still a very new and developing technology and as a result we are trying to use old dimming technology that was designed for incandescent filament bulbs on LED lighting which is not perfect. There are early signs of LED dimming technology being developed and the writer feels sure this technology will become commonplace in the future.

Traditional filament Incandescent and halogen Light Bulbs are the most affordable options and also offer great dimming capabilities, making them the most preferred styles. However these are becoming harder to purchase as the Australian Government continues on its phase out of these less energy efficient lamps from the Australian market.

Why should I get a dimming light?

Dimmable lights have many benefits – and they’re not just for romance! Dimming can reduce the bulb’s consumption (depending on the type you choose), make it look really nice and transition the lighting in the room from nothing to full power with a simple flick of a switch. It is a great way to save on your energy bills and is great for rooms that require different lighting at different times, like the bathroom, kitchen and bedroom, to name a few.

At Discount Lighting, we have a wide range of lighting fittings to suit your home or office, including dimmable lighting. To take a look at what we have on offer, choose from our products online today.

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